Clouds gather in data centre foyer

The NEXTDC M1 data centre in Port Melbourne is designed for staff as much as it is for the critical IT services that it maintains. So when the ASX300-listed technology company recently decided that the sound properties of its spacious foyer needed to be tamed, the team sought the acoustics expertise of Norman Disney & Young (NDY).

In conjunction with the client and suppliers, NDY developed a solution that dampened reverberation and enhanced the M1 experience. As it turns out, the solution also happens to resemble clouds.

“Due to smooth and acoustically reflective finishes of the foyer, the space was prone to reverberant noise build up,” says NDY acoustic consultant Gabriel Lu. “This created an uncomfortable environment for NEXTDC guests and made hosting tours of the space troublesome.”

Working alongside NDY acoustic manager Tim Beresford, Lu undertook computer modelling of the reception area. “This modelling was crucial in determining the acoustic absorption required to reduce the reverberation time to a suitable level for the reception area,” adds Lu.

In collaboration with architects Greenbox, NDY reviewed drawings and evaluated various solutions. According to Lu, these included wall panels, and ceiling-suspended feature solutions with supplier Autex, an Australian-based specialist in textiles and advanced fibre technology.

The client was keen to implement a solution that did not interfere or clash with the existing interior fitout and was within a suitable budget. The solution: a floating cloud installation.

“Not only does it look great but the floating cloud solution has dramatically reduced the reverberation” says NEXTDC Project Manager, Simon Brown.

Andreas Kelly, who was then the M1 facility manager, says the lobby no longer echoes, reinforces these sentiments. “The solution from NDY provides an interesting talking point that works well technically,” says Kelly. “Aligning the cuts in the (acoustic wall) panel has allowed it to look like it was part of the original design.”

Not only does the installation provide the required acoustical solution and integrates within the existing space, it also acts as a metaphor for the NEXTDC business.

“The business of NEXTDC is all about IT and data,” says Lu, “so the end result is a fitting visual representation of the cloud computing solutions enabled by the firm.”

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